In this fierce industry competition where reputed global firms are willing to undertake strategic initiatives for customer acquisition and retention, some brands may merely focus on the quality of their products/services and building a successful loyalty program or rewards program to increase customer loyalty.
However, market saturation and globalization calls for going the extra mile to attract customer loyalty by focusing on sustainability. Having been at a lower spot in the priority list of several organizations for long, sustainability now has become a strategic means to gain competitive advantage.
As per a survey “62% executives agree that having a sustainability strategy is crucial to gain competitive advantage.”
The customers even are more motivated to associate with brands that are associated with a good sustainable cause; henceforth they also make the necessary efforts to play their own individual role in the shared purpose of embracing sustainability.
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How Sustainability Inspires Brands and Consumers?
Brands incorporating sustainability in their business practices take a distinctive approach to decision making. With a commitment to sustainability, brands don’t take business decisions on the basis of short-term gains but rather for long terms in terms of social, environmental, and human impact.
Besides making goals for business profitability, the responsible brands also set sustainability goals to live up to their commitment. An automobile manufacturer company planning to shrink total emissions in their upcoming car models, or a garment manufacturer committing to having zero-waste product packaging by a specific year, or a brand announcing a fixed percentage of its product sale amount to be donated to a charitable cause are few examples of this type of commitment.
Consider for example the leading beverage company Starbucks; the coffee giant decided to go for substituting plastic straws by promoting straw-free cups in all its stores.
Some reputed global brands having strong commitment to sustainability are listed below –
Nike – Focused on considerable waste reduction
Adidas – Focused on creating greener supply chain
Unilever – Worked on overall waste reduction
Nestle – Worked in areas like waste reduction, water efficiency
Pepsi – Focused on water replenishment issues
Toyota – Worked on pollution reduction
Let’s consider the e-commerce segment for a more comprehensive example. E-commerce brands deal with numerous product deliveries on a daily basis. However, restraining the option merely to home delivery may not be quite significant from the sustainability perspective.
Sustainable product deliveries can actually enable e-commerce brands to set the benchmark and foster loyalty. Consolidating deliveries, setting up click & collect/pick up points helps brands adopt a more sustainable approach to product delivery by reducing the number of delivery vehicles.
As per an estimate, “Embracing a more sustainable approach to product delivery may cut off delivery vehicles on street by 80%, thereby reducing the corresponding emissions.”
Besides influencing brands, sustainability influences customers too and even encourages them to take action for fulfilling the goal of embracing sustainability.
A recent survey revealed some interesting facts about the retail industry customers. Some of the key findings include –
Older shoppers are concerned more about the packaging of clothes.
Compared to men, women are more likely to prioritize sustainability
43% women and 31% men confirmed to select products having minimal packaging to avoid wastage
73% women and 47% men confirmed recycling clothes to reduce wastage
It reveals how significant sustainability has become for customers as well in the present time. Henceforth, as customers continue to become more & more conscious about sustainability, brands need to clearly demonstrate their pure commitment to sustainability to the customers in order to foster enhanced loyalty.
3 Prominent Roles Sustainability Plays in Boosting Customer Loyalty
Sustainability increases customer loyalty to significant levels. Let’s explore the 3 major ways in which sustainability considerably boosts customer loyalty –
1. Sustainability Enables Customers Maintain Personal Values
Merely making changes to your business practices may help you foster sustainability at the business level; however, this may not be sufficient to impress the modern customers who expect your brand to assist them in maintaining sustainable behavior. Brands that succeed in helping their customers in their “sustainable-behavior” endeavors are more likely to gain a competitive edge.
Let’s consider the example of reducing the usage of single-use plastics like straws, cups, etc. in the food & beverages industry. A recent survey has revealed that “85% of customers showed positive commitment to discarding the use of plastic utensils”. So, brands that can effectively support this customer commitment by providing robust substitutes for single-use plastics are more likely to weave a strong bond with the customers.
Consider for example; the food & beverage industry brands that substitute the plastic straws with premium grade paper straws will match customer’s commitment to curbing plastic usage. Leading coffee giant Starbucks has already incorporated this in its strategy by announcing gradual replacement of plastic straws in all its licensed stores. In an endeavor to curb plastic usage, the company has promoted straw-free “sippy cup” lids as a modified version to its traditional styled cups.
The reputed brand aims at developing a 100% recyclable hot cup by the year 2022 – which is a strong commitment towards sustainability. When a brand behaves responsibly in this manner by supporting customer’s commitment to sustainability, it is natural to draw more loyalty from customers.
2. Sustainability Seamlessly Aligns with Customer Values
Your customers can be loyal to your brand only when they actually sense some bonding with it. Sustainability serves as a shared purpose for both you and your customers. Let’s consider some vital statistics to understand it better.
66% customers give due consideration to sustainability when making a purchase
47% customers are okay with paying more money for products on grounds of sustainability
68% customers confirmed being loyal to a brand that shares the same values like them.
89% customers are ready to switch to a brand associated with sustainable causes
Connecting with your customers at an emotional level helps drive loyalty more effectively. Hence by displaying your commitment towards sustainability, you influence the customer on the common emotional ground and consequently foster genuine loyalty which goes a long way.
3. Sustainability Fosters Brand Advocacy
By demonstrating shared values and assisting customers in attaining their sustainability goals, you bond with them at an emotional level and effectively enhance the overall customer experience. When these delighted customers naturally share this pleasant experience with their known groups, they act as brand advocates promoting positivity about your brand.
Incorporating sustainability in your business strategy increases the probability of your customers turning into brand advocates. Customers investing in purchase of sustainable products or the ones displaying support for brands fostering sustainability demonstrate what they really value and that’s what they would suggest to their peers to spread the word better.
An effective strategy to demonstrate your brand’s commitment to sustainability would be to incorporate the message in your brand’s mission statement. When the sustainability-conscious customers come across a brand message that fosters sustainability, they are more likely to sync closely with the message and find it even easier and more interesting to share it with their peers.
Boost Genuine Customer Loyalty By Embracing Sustainability
As sustainability can definitely help you forge lasting, profitable relationships with customers, it’s perfect to incorporate the same in your business strategy. Incorporating sustainability in your business practices will indeed help you boost genuine customer loyalty when you work with customers for attaining the common goal, i.e. the shared purpose of embracing sustainability.
Moreover, customers would actually feed proud to associate with a brand like yours that genuinely lays focus on sustainable business practices. If you need to learn more about fostering customer loyalty for augmented customer retention, we would be delighted to help. Call us now!